Rochelle Waxman

March 2015
Hamilton Jewish News
by Wendy Schneider

There is something quite wonderful that emanates from Rochelle Waxman, akin to being gently wrapped in a cozy blanket and held in a warm embrace.  It probably explains why  the Corner Store on Shalom Village’s “York Street”, where Waxman volunteers five days a week, is the go-to place for both staff and residents in search of camaraderie, and, oh yes,  the perfect gift.  At 89, Waxman cuts an elegantly-attired, gently mannered and remarkably youthful figure. Volunteering at Shalom has clearly been a good life choice for her, and needless to say, a blessing for the many recipients of her kindness. 

Who was a volunteer role model for you?
My mother. She had eight children and things were tough, but I always remember her baking for Pioneer Women because I’d go with her door to door to sell tickets. She didn’t drive a car, so we’d take a streetcar to go to the different places. She would always say, “You have to give back. You can’t just take.”

What’s your role at Shalom Village?
It’s going to be 34 years that I’ve been volunteering at Shalom. It’s something I love and I look forward to it every day.  I look after the Corner Store (the Shalom Village gift shop on “York Street”). We’re open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I’m there two whole days and three half days a week.  Also, Jo-Ann Pomerantz and I organize the Ladies Auxiliary Tea every summer. 

How does Shalom Village benefit from your volunteer efforts?
Whatever we make in the store all goes back to Shalom. As a matter of fact, the money is used to provide bursaries for staff who want to take courses to better themselves. The tea does very well for Shalom. Funds have been used to purchase things like patient lifts, Passover dishes and to furnish Shalom’s “Snoezelen” room (a multi-sensory room designed for Alzheimer’s patients.) Last year’s tea raised $50,000. It makes you feel good.

How do you benefit from volunteering?
Running the store has done a lot for my awareness. I go to the gift show twice a year and I do all the buying. We have a separate bank account for the store and I make the cheques out for whatever I buy. Whenever I go into the store and see an empty spot on the shelf, I get a big smile on my face because I chose it at the gift show, and it was sold. It makes me feel good. 

What do you do for fun?
You know what? Every day is fun because I go in there and socialize.The residents feel like talking so we talk. It’s good. For fun I used to play canasta but I don’t now because my days are filled with going in to the store. 

Are you a people person?
I love people. I’ve always been a shy person. But now I push myself a little more. I think as you get older you get a little braver. 

Do you have to be a people person to do what you do?
If you just want to just sell in the store, then no, but the residents want more than that. They’re lonely, and you can see, sometimes, that they just want to talk. And sometimes caregivers will bring the nursing home residents down. They love the look of the store and its pretty colours. Some times they’ll bring in gift certificates for the Corner Store that they’ve saved up by playing Bingo. It makes them so happy to buy something and I’m happy for them. Outside the store there’s a little table and some chairs. If a resident’s wheelchair takes too much room I’ll go out and speak to her out there.  It’s good therapy for me as well as for them.

In what way, good therapy?
It’s good therapy because I think to myself, ‘aren’t I lucky that I can be the one to go home every night, and then come back and talk to them?’ I love it when a resident comes in very sad and we talk, and then she’s smiling and will say to me, ‘Rochelle thank you for spending time with me.’ And I say don’t thank me. It was my pleasure. I gain a lot. And I really do feel I’m lucky that I can still do it at my age.